Interview to Sohei Nishino, one of the two winners of the Mast Foundation for photography

1. Sohei Nishino Il Po

Born in Hyogo in 1982.

Currently lives and works in Kanagawa and Shizuoka Japan. The main exhibition of recent years, 2012 OUT OF FOCUS: PHOTOGRAPHY (Saatchi Gallery, London), 2013 A Different Kind of Order (The ICP Triennial, New York), 2015 NEW DIORAMAS (Michael Hoppen Gallery, London)and more. My solo Exhibition will be held in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from on 2016 autumn.

5. Sohei Nishino Il Po, Pescatore Di 85 Anni

About ‘IL PO‘:

Hi Sohei, please introduce us the project you presented at the MAST FOUNDATION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY.

The Po river, which is the longest river in Italy starts its headstream in Alps, ends up in Adrian Sea by running across the country through Lombardy plains and Po Plains.

The river is almost a symbol of Mother for Italian people and has been playing very important role not only culturally but also economically. In fact, its basin economically supports the whole country with the 40% GPS rate, 55% share of cattle production, and 35% share of agricultural production.

3. Sohei Nishino Il Po, Vecchia Centrale Elettrica

For over 14 years, through the body of work, Diorama Map series, I have been observing the cities multiply by the physical act of walking and by the personal experience and memory in a certain format of Map. Through that process, I became interested in how water such as a river and sea effect when cities have been composed.

In order to the city is composed, rich water vein is necessary and by that, people have been started to settled down, commodity distribution has started through a river and sea, people are coming in and passing by through the commerce, and the city has been more and more developed.

For the project of “Il Po”, I started from the place called Mont Viso, the very beginning of the Po river, ended up to its final destination of Adrian Sea by spending 45 days for the shooting. Through this process, I visited a town and small villages along side its basin, industrial districts which economically support the regions and certain places and people which gave an important influence on the history of Po river.

4. Sohei Nishino Il Po, Casa Sul Fiume Luzzara

This project is also a journey of examination to see how people live with the river and how the river connects with the life of human beings and the society by observing from the macro view to express the whole river and the movement of my journey as well as from the micro view to capture the people and its community along side the Po river.

How do you hope the readers will react to your project, ideally?

How people live together with nature has always been a big task to think about but through this work, I hope it gives an opportunity for us to think about water, which we use in our everyday life. However, I don’t mean to appeal the problems of natural environment with this work, rather, through my journey, I hope people will imagine fact that water surrounds us is connecting to everywhere around the world and circulates.

2. Sohei Nishino Il Po, Zuccherificio In Rovina

Did you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind while working on your project?

I have been working on the city as a theme for my previous works, and I have realized that major cities mostly have a river or sea.  In the city water front scenery is kind of an escape and healing space for both people and living creatures under the water. One day, when I was siting by the water and watching the flow of the river, I became curious to know where this river starts and how it ends. Water is such an ordinary things for our daily life but at the same time it is something, which we buy at the super market or something it comes out from a tab. Although water is close to us, we don’t essentially understand or we are not physically connected it very much. It seemed to me there are a gap between the water we daily use and the water in the river or sea and doesn’t seem like it comes from the same source.  As an a reference, I watched some film or read some books related to the river or river PO, among them was Centochiodi directed by Elmanno Olmi by that I first became interested in the river Po.

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 The theme of the competition is “Industry, Society and Territory”, how did you deal with this very important topic?

For this work, as my initial major plan, I decided to move from the headwaters of the river till it finally ends it up to the sea. I thought it means a lot to me that I physically experience the river with my body.  I traveled with my Italian assistant to see how people’s life related to the river and what is happening along the river. For that, I actually interviewed some people who are living along side the river and asked what river means to them.

Among them, there were small village which had several damage because of flood, some places which has polluted due to the construction of the factories, people around the giant fish called, Siluro, which effects the ecosystem, woodworkers working for the planted trees along side the river, a town where the power plant was constructed in the center of it, rice field farmers whose business is tapering off, children swimming in the swimming pool by the river, 80 years old sailor who runs the business of ferry and ruined sugar factory which has moved to the south due to the cost reduction  and so on.

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They are sometimes unexpected encounters accidentally met as I move along the river and I included their stories and portraits to compose the whole scenery of river Po together with single snapshots. If It just visit the certain place with lots of research, I would not have met. As I move along the river with the speed which is almost same as the flow of water, I could feel and see how the water changes in the river, as well as how the water relates and means to the people there.

Choose your three words to describe this experience

Panta rhei (circulation), Border, Vitality

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Time to read
6 min
Words by
Published on
16 February 2018
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